In 2005 Devi and I arrived in India for a three-week visit with Swami Kriyananda, who had moved there in 2003. The day we landed, Swamiji had begun writing what was to be perhaps his greatest book: The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Though still playing the loving host to us and others, and despite the fact that he was in his eightieth year, Swamiji set himself the goal of writing ten pages a day for this book.

Swami Kriyananda The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita as Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda - moment of completion

Swami Kriyananda at the completion of The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita

To everyone’s amazement, no matter what else was happening each day—and that included many hours a day spent with those he was hosting—Swamiji would bring his focus back to the book to reach, and often surpass, his self-created target. After less than two months he had finished the work: six hundred pages of fresh, inspiring insights based on Yoganandaji’s Gita commentaries.

This accomplishment was the fruit of Swamiji’s lifelong discipline of concentrating and focusing his mind. A friend recently sent us several statements by Paramhansa Yogananda on this subject, and I thought it would be very helpful to share some of them with you:

“Concentration is the power by which you can free your attention from objects of distraction and place it upon one thing at a time. It is the gateway to power. The root cause of failure is lack of concentration.”

“Just as all human beings have eyes, so does everyone have a spiritual eye within the forehead. It awaits only your discovery by deep concentration within. If you can keep your mind focused deeply enough and long enough at the point between the eyebrows, you will get the right answer to any problem. The more deeply you concentrate your attention[there], the more you will find your ego dissolving into superconsciousness.”

“Habits can be changed in a day. They are nothing but concentration of the mind. Simply concentrate another way, and you’ll completely overcome the habit. Concentration and meditation destroy mental diseases and corrosive bad habits that are lodged in the brain.”

“To acquire mental magnetism, you must do everything with deep concentration. People who have reached the top of their profession or business have great magnetic power.”

Sometimes people wrongly think that spiritual teachings such as these are not very useful in the “practical,” everyday world. But here is what two of the most successful men in the world, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have to say about focus. Shortly after they had become friends (each donates a vast percentage of his billions to charitable causes), Bill’s dad asked them to write down on a piece of paper one word that best described what had helped them the most. Without collaborating, they each wrote the word, “focus.”

Warren went on to say that he focuses his energy only on that which he is intensely interested in, calling it his area of competence. He suggested this exercise: Write a list of two dozen or so goals to be achieved within a set time period. Next, circle the five most important. Now you have two lists. The first, the longer one, is renamed: “Avoid At All Costs.” “The difference between successful people and really successful people,” he’s said, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

We can best develop focus by, well, focusing. It starts with intention, is built by effort, gradually forms into a habit, and finally becomes a way of life. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish by using the power of the focused mind.

In focus,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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18 Comments

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  1. These words are the exact inspiration and help I need at exactly this time. I´m deeply thankful.

  2. When Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi came to India in 2005, I got the opportunity to meet them in a Satsang at Delhi. I remember them very clearly. It was a great joy meeting and hearing them. Jai Ggur ! Om Guru !

  3. I thank you very much for your writting. Always very helpful to me. God bless you all..Thank you very very much.

  4. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish, Thank you so much for this article which again gives most welcome and timely reminders, but I must emphasise the very important points that “it’s the way you tell/express them” (excuse the pun albeit meant complimentary) it just makes them more poignant and clear. Much joy and blessings to you and Devi. Please keep them coming!

  5. In the middle of work this morning, I paused. I wanted to tune in to Yogananda and Swami for guidance on something , so I went to look for their pictures to place next to my computer. There wasn’t one of Swami that could easily be removed. I decided to continue with my work any way . . . Then I saw your email. I clicked on it, and there was a picture of Swami smiling . . . with the most perfect message for me. Thank you so much!!! Yes, without concentration, nothing great could be accomplished …

  6. Thank you, Jyotish,
    Love this! Great example of the power of the mind. Will share with my clients here in Tucson.

  7. Dear Jyotish and Devi: Thank you for the inspiring touch of light blogs. They always lift heart and my awareness to a clear and greater intention. And today when I was barely awake I read your blog about focus. I love the exercise about writing the two dozen goals we want to achieve and then renaming them… “Avoid at all cost.” Clear and determined “focus” is a challenge for many of us with all of the distractions in our lives.

    I am inspired to hear how quickly Swamiji wrote “The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.” Thank you so much. I will do this exercise to step up and improve my “focus,” by using this unique way that you shared with us today.

    Joy and Blessings to you both, Love, Prakriti

  8. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you very much . Very Inspiring .
    I would like to cultivate the habit of Concentration and focus. The thoughts you listed out here really helps

    Joy,
    Prem

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